The environmental impact of small hydro power (SHP) projects, of up to 25 megawatt (MW) capacity, which are being promoted by the government as ‘green,’ was the centre of discussion at a conference here on Friday.

The meet, which was organised by New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), stressed on the need to revise and follow environmental norms during the construction of SHP projects.

According to the CSE, there are more than 300 such projects at various stages of implementation in the country with a total capacity of about 1250 MW. In Uttarakhand alone, there are around 40 SHP projects on the Alaknanda and the Bhagirathi basins with a total capacity of about 180 MW.

CSE Deputy Director-General, Chandra Bhushan said: “The idea [behind this research] is to establish systems that will allow development of SHP without compromising on environmental integrity.”

Former IIM Bangalore Professor Bharat Jhunjhunwala, who was also present at the meeting, said: “Even on implementing the norms, environmental impact will continue to be an issue. Redesigning the SHP projects to allow a part of the river to flow should be the next level of research.”

At present, the SHP projects in the State do not follow even minimal environmental norms.